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Power of positivity: A cure for the TV blues — turning off the politics

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Bluey

The family of "Bluey": Chilli, Bluey, Bingo and Bandit.

It can take time to realize when we have developed bad habits. Earlier this year, it hit me that I spent far too much time watching political programming on cable news networks each weeknight.

While keeping up with the news is of course important, these shows have grown awfully toxic over the years, just as politics has as a whole.

It’s across the board, from left to right, and I finally decided that these shows were causing me more harm than good.

There are more positive ways to spend your time, as I learned by turning to these three fine examples.

Part I: The Goofy

There is something charming about comedians who don’t need to curse to be funny. Jim Gaffigan, Nate Bargatze and Jerry Seinfeld come to mind. My favorite of the clean bunch is Brian Regan, who I have enjoyed ever since the late ’80s on MTV’s “Half Hour Comedy Hour.”

Endlessly silly and capable of absurd facial contortions, Regan is consistently funny and yet terribly underrated.

If you’re in need of a giggle, search online for his bits on the gap between manslaughter and loitering, a trip to the emergency room and walking on the moon.

His latest Netflix special, “On the Rocks,” is full of laugh-out-loud moments, including his breakdown of the differences in “itty bitty,” “teeny weeny” and “teensy weensy.” Most of all, the explanation of his disdain for raisins made me howl. And multiple viewings later, it still does.

The lesson: Nothing could be further from venomous politics than raisin-based comedy. Goofy is good, and it helps us to not take ourselves so seriously.

Part II: The Hopeful

All kinds of accolades have been heaped upon “Ted Lasso,” the Jason Sudeikis-led soccer comedy on Apple TV+. All are well-deserved. It may be the ideal show, with a rare blend of hope, heart and humor.

There are certainly mature elements of the show, but then an adult comedy can’t just be Biz Markie references, tea disses and mustache jokes. And there are hokey moments that border on mawkish, like when Rebecca asked Ted if he believes in ghosts: “I do. But more importantly, I think they need to believe in themselves.” (Come on.)

But that’s a minor quibble. The writing is actually brilliant, the casting is inspired and you’re instantly invested in the personalities. It’s unusual to actively root for so many fictional characters, but it’s inevitable when they are as appealing as Ted, Rebecca, Roy, Keeley, Sam, Higgins, Coach Beard and even Trent Crimm … The Independent.

The only real negative is waiting for the next season to come around.

The lesson: Hope can be hard to come by, and inspiration can be even more elusive. I’ll take it where I can get it.

Part III: The Sweet

It’s rare as a parent to find children’s programming that you can actually tolerate. My family has enjoyed “Yo Gabba Gabba,” “Wonder Pets” and “Peppa Pig,” along with the longtime champ, “Sesame Street.”

(Just about everything else is pure agony to sit through, so here’s to small victories.)

I heard a buzz about a Disney Junior show earlier this year but knew nothing about it. So I turned it on one day with my kids. That was the day we fell in love with “Bluey.”

For the uninitiated, it’s an 8-minute Australian animated show about a family of blue and red heeler dogs. What’s remarkable is how much they cram into those 8 minutes.

First, it’s funny, and not just for the kids. Any appearance by “the Grannies” will bring some hearty chuckles. (“I slipped on my beans!”)

It’s relatable for parents, watching father Bandit and mother Chilli deal with mundane home tasks (laundry, toilet-plunging, oven-cleaning). They are terrific parents, devoted to their highly imaginative kids Bluey and Bingo.

Bandit’s creative role-playing may even make fathers feel a bit inferior. He’s a lot to live up to.

Where “Bluey” really hooks you is in its gentle moments. Several episodes are so expertly done that tears of appreciation are a real possibility, like with Bingo’s gorgeous dream in “Sleepytime,” a long-lost friend returning to Bluey in “Camping,” and Chilli’s father’s wistful recognition of how quickly time passes in “Granddad.”

It’s 8 minutes of perfection. My wife and I have found ourselves watching it even when the kids aren’t around.

The lesson: Lots of shows focus on how important family really is, but few do it as well as “Bluey.” I can’t recommend it enough.

The next time you find yourself in the gross cable-news muck of politicians on the attack and pundits pushing an agenda, consider some alternatives.

Aim for something that feels good. Maybe something goofy, something hopeful, something sweet.

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